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ISL 2020-21: SC East Bengal are good enough, but do they know that yet?

ISL 2020-21: SC East Bengal are good enough, but do they know that yet?

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 15 Dec 2020 7:29 AM GMT

There have been moments this season in the Indian Super League (ISL) when Robbie Fowler’s SC East Bengal have been really good. They’ve been comfortable on the ball, passed it around quickly and made quick attacking transitions up until the opposition penalty box.

But that is where it has all gone kaput, more often than not. For a side that has players like Matti Steinmann, Anthony Pilkington and Jacques Maghoma, their passing and movement, or the lack of it, in and around the final third has been bewildering to say the least. One would feel that it stems from depleted confidence levels. In the first match of their debut ISL campaign, the luck of the draw went against them. Even though they worked the ball around nicely and drew a couple of decent saves from Arindam Bhattacharjee, ATK Mohun Bagan used their experience and knowhow to stay solid and eventually put two past them.

If that was a blow to their morale, the next match against Mumbai City FC smashed whatever was left of it to pieces. The Islanders had all their big guns to bank on as they smiled their way to a 3-0 demolition job, playing some champagne football on the night. Then came the challenge of facing NorthEast United. It was in this match where the Red and Golds looked a little more up for it and yet, it was again their finishing that let them down. A couple of Anthony Pilkington’s headers went wide, Mahammed Rafique and Balwant Singh both came close while a number of their attempts were blocked by the spirited Highlanders.


In many ways, Gerard Nus’ side laid down the template which Robbie Fowler would be desperate for his team to adopt going forward; stay compact, isolate opposition defenders and then break quickly. They did the first part of it very well against Jamshedpur FC, that too with a man less. However, it remains to be seen if they can figure out the remaining jigsaw pieces against Hyderabad FC tonight.

Sure they’ve had issues with their preparation and are probably still behind others in terms of fitness. But they’ve also made schoolboy errors at the back that have cost them points. Their decision-making during attacking transitions is also something that has left a lot to be desired. Too many times they’ve dallied on the ball and botched up promising attacks. As cliché as it sounds, they have to take it one game at a time now and treat every match like it is a cup final.

Therefore, what makes tonight’s fixture a potential cracker of a match is not just the fact that both the sides are desperate for a win. The Kolkata giants are hurting and so are their fans. Fowler and his staff HAVE to figure out a way to get out of this rut before it is already the 12th or 15th matchday and the side is still languishing at the bottom of the table. But for that to happen, the players have to stand up and make themselves counted. They have to have each other’s backs and play for the Red and Gold crest, now more than ever. And maybe then, lady luck will come to their rescue.

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